"Having played on Gullane No.2 in the morning and No.1 in the afternoon, my mind is in an agreeable jumble between the two," wrote Bernard Darwin in his 1934 book, Playing The Like. "I am inclined to think I am the fonder of No.2, but here again there may be a personal motive; it is decidedly the shorter. There is, of course, a strong family likeness between the two, because on both we have (like the Grand Old Duke of York of the poem) to march up to the top of the hill and march down again."
Golf at Gullane dates back to 1650 but the club wasn't founded until 1882. The then current Open Champion, Willie Park Jnr, laid down Gullane No.2 in 1899 for ten guineas.
Gullane No.2 runs parallel to No.1 for the first seven holes. It's a flat beginning and then a steady climb up the hill. At the 11th, the charming view of Aberlady Bay opens up but don't let this distract you too much because this is probably the best short hole on the course, which invariably plays into the prevailing wind to a front-to-back sloping green. Frank Pennink remodelled the 12th hole in 1969 and it takes you on a journey to the edge of the secret and picturesque nature reserve. "We feel as if we were playing in a little world of our own - ours and the gulls' and the rabbits'," wrote Darwin.
There's an overriding feeling of openness at Gullane. The sky is big and the course seems wide and open, but it is an illusion: each hole has its fair share of trouble and it lulls you into a false sense of security. Gullane No.2 has played host to Open Championship Final Qualifying, so it's certainly not a pushover. Play No.2 along with No.1 – you'll have a memorable day on Gullane Hill.
Tell me when you've played golf when the ground is completely covered in white frost – tees, fairways, greens, the lot! Well I did this here just before Christmas 2002 and there were PLENTY of others out on the course playing too.
That's a measure of how well this place satisfies the golfing appetite of those who will play in all conditions, at any time.
I had already played #2 in more conventional circumstances and have since played the other two but this course remains my favourite.
Gullane is just so geared up to visiting golfers. It has an excellent visitors clubhouse, the greens are always in tip-top condition and the amount of winter work that is done on new bunker facings is just unbelievable – they must have an army of people looking after the place.
The setting next to Aberlady Bay is magnificent and if you have not yet visited this unsung golfing mecca round the corner from Muirfield then you want to get your act together and do so soon. Buy a day ticket for #3 and #2 and make a day of it; you'll love the place.